Book Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

So, I had a day off last Friday, all to myself.  Well, sort of.  Except for the errands I had to run, and an appointment in the afternoon, and taking care of Henry, who decided to projectile vomit all over the rug. He’s okay, BTW.  Our neighbor’s springer spaniel, Bella, came to visit and Henry barked at her relentlessly.  He got himself so upset that he horked all over the carpet and Bella proceeded to pee on the rug.  

But still, a day off is a day off.  I picked up The Escape Room because I wanted to read it since this past winter and @stmartinspress #partner was kind enough to send me a copy.

I couldn’t stop reading this book.  I just had to know what happened to this terrible crowd of awful human beings!  Vincent, Sylvie, Sam, and Jules are all top-tier execs at Stanhope & Sons, a prestigious banking/high finance/hedge fund company in NYC.  It’s like Wall Street on steroids.  These four execs get summoned to what they think is a mandatory meeting for some team bonding.  Vincent, the head of the team tells the rest of them that it won’t take more than an hour.

Turns out, their team building exercise consists of being locked into an elevator in a half-built building.  It’s an escape room.  They need to figure out the clues to get out in time or risk losing their team, their bonuses, maybe even their jobs.

Or maybe their lives.

Reading this book was like being locked inside my favorite candy store with a Visa rewards card.  I couldn’t get enough of it and every time I wanted to stop reading it, I kept wanting more.  It’s just pure fun.  You have to suspend disbelief to read this, and that’s an okay thing for me.    As long as I didn’t think about the horror of being locked in an elevator with a bunch of people with no ethics or morals whose only apparent goal in life is to make millions of dollars.

Go into it for the fun.  Outrageous fun at that. The story alternated between the Elevator and a woman named Sara Hall, who tells of her experiences working at Stanhope.  Thankfully, Sara Hall saved this book.  Without her insight, I don’t think I would have been able to stomach the other four main characters. Also, her chapters were much more relatable.  The writing in the Elevator chapters was a bit more stilted as it alternated between the POVs of this Fearsome Foursome.

I think this book makes a great beach read or vacation read, or if you’re like me, a day-off-from-work read.  You can enter The Escape Room today! Happy Pub Day! Thank you so much again to https://us.macmillan.com/ #Partner for my complimentary copy.

About the author: Megan Goldin is a best-selling Australian author whose novel The Escape Room will be published in the U.S. and UK in 2019. Megan’s domestic noir thriller The Girl in Kellers Way was published in Australia in 2017. Megan was a reporter based in the Middle East for the Reuters news agency, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Associated Press.

Monday Spotlight: The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Today’s featured book is one that I’m currently reading for the NetGalley #Reviewathon. I’m loving this book.  It ticks all the boxes for me.  A great story with wonderful characters that I can’t wait to get to know better.  It takes place in a small Southern town of Dove Pond and books are central to the story.  Plus, it’s got a beautiful cover! How couldn’t I be drawn to a cover featuring a pile of books with a bookworm as its central character?

What it’s about: (from the book). Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

The Book Charmer is available tomorrow, July 30th! Thank you to @GalleryBooks and @NetGalley for my copy.

About the author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Hawkins writes novels that have been praised as touching, witty, charming, and heartwarming. A native Southerner who grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee where storytelling is a way of life, Karen recently moved to frosty New England with her beloved husband and multiple foster dogs. The Dove Pond series is a nod to the thousands of books that opened doors for her to more adventures, places, and discoveries than she ever imagined possible. To find out more about Karen, check in with her at Facebook.com/KarenHawkinsWriter, @KarenHawkinsAuthor on Instagram, and at her website, KarenHawkins.com

Book Review: The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Lila Bennett is having the best day of her life.  Or the worst.  She just won a not-guilty verdict for a man who was charged with the brutal murder of his wife.  Lila is a celebrated criminal defense attorney.  She is an ace at her job.  The partners at her law firm toast her with expensive champagne.  But something is amiss in Lila’s world.  Suddenly it all splits apart.

Literally.

This unique thriller is told in two different realities.  And I love books with alternate realities.  Lila is such a strong character that I raced along with her in both realities to find out where this story was headed.  Lots of twists and turns abound as the reader peels back the layers of the The Two Lila Bennetts.

This is just an all-around fantastic read.  I know you might be thinking–alternate realities?  Is this sci-fi?  I don’t read that genre.   Don’t do that.  Trust me. Give this book a chance.  If I had been lounging at the beach, I would’ve read this in one sitting.  I don’t want to give anything else away.  Just go #readthisbook!  If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can read for free right now! Just in time for the weekend!

Thank you so much to @kccpr @lisaandliz and Lake Union Publishing for my complimentary copy! All opinions are my own.

Happy Pub Day!

Have some fun in the sun with three new books! I am about halfway through The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke. I am planning on starting The Possession this week as well. I did read A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell earlier.

Enjoy your new book Tuesday! Do you plan on reading any of these?

Book review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

This book terrified me. Not in the way a twisty thriller would.  Wanderers isn’t a psychological thriller.  It’s not horror, even though it is horrifying.  It’s not a mystery, even though there is the mystery of the walkers.  That mystery takes up the first part of Wanderers.  And yes, you do find out what caused their zombie-like walking.  (No, they aren’t zombies a la The Walking Dead.)

No, the real terror here is the reaction to the walkers.  How would this country react if something like this actually happened?  Right now.  Ponder on that for a minute.

This is the epic, post-apocalyptic novel I’ve waited to read.  Wanderers lived up to my hype for it and then some.  In reviews, it has been compared to Stephen King’s The Stand.  I read The Stand many years and it solidified my love for King and for post-apocalyptic fiction.  The Stand is even referenced in Wanderers.  What makes Wanderers different is that it felt like something that could really happen.  Not just with the reason that the walkers exist.  But in the reaction to them.  The modern-day reaction.  This is an epic for today’s world, today’s America.  It’s frightening. What would the collapse of our society look like in 2019?

For all that is terrifying in Wanderers, it also has wonderful characters and heart.  There are the shepherds, those who follow the walkers, (the flock).  People like Shana Stewart, who refuses to leave her sister, Nessie, the first walker.  Benjamin Ray, a doctor who worked for the CDC, who is trying to figure out the mystery of the malady that affected the walkers.  There is Matthew Bird, a pastor who falls down the rabbit hole and into the violence, racism and xenophobia of white supremacists.  There is Marcy, an ex-cop with a traumatic brain injury, who joins up with the shepherds to protect the flock. She is one of my favorite characters, who is responsible for one of my favorite quotes. Hint: Read the book! There is an aging rock star, Pete Corley, who finds a place to hide among the shepherds and the flock.

Word of warning:  this book gets into political themes, religious themes.  What happens when a society denies science and climate change?  There is violence and rape.  Racism, guns.  Violent political divisions.  I noticed in some reviews that people either love or hate this book. I’m not surprised. Chuck Wendig does not hide his political views.

  Yes, this book is long. Yes, you could use it as a doorstopper.   Yes, it can be slow at times.  I wasn’t in love with the ending and it did drag in parts for me as a reader.  Doesn’t matter though. I loved Wanderers.  I want to thank NetGalley and DelRey Publishing for my copy.  All opinions are my own.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

A few months ago, I read How To Walk Away and posted a review on my blog. I loved the book so much and I put the book on my favorites shelf. When I saw that Katherine Center had a new book coming out, I knew I wanted to read it! Things You Save in a Fire is quite different, but no less enjoyable. I really loved Cassie Hanwell. I loved that she was brave and independent and a woman in a male-dominated profession. I also liked that Cassie was central to the story. It worked so well that the romance did not dominate the story because Cassie was such a well-written female character. She survived two terrible events on her 16th birthday to become a firefighter. Unfortunately, she almost loses her career in Austin when an incident at an awards ceremony gets her fired. She relocates back East to the small town of Lillian, Massachusetts. She is the only female in her new firehouse. And the men don’t really want her there.

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Except for a rookie firefighter named Owen, who is the son of a firefighter. Cassie and Owen bond through the pranks from the other firefighters. Cassie also has to live with her mother in Lillian. Her mom isn’t well and she needs Cassie’s help. So now Cassie and her mom must patch up their troubled relationship.

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I adore Katherine Center’s writing. I love her female characters and I love how this book is really Cassie’s story. She’s built up so many walls around herself in her personal life and yet, she has to confront her relationship with her mom. Cassie’s life could have fallen apart in Austin when she lost her job. But she found the courage to take on a new position and face parts of her past with her mother, Diana. I almost thought of Owen as a secondary character (he’s not. He has his own issues to face.). I also loved Diana’s friend, Josie and there is a little Easter egg in the book for fans of How To Walk Away.

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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for my copy! Grab a copy on August 13th!

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Unpopular opinion: This thriller just didn’t thrill me.

The Good: It was a quick read with two unreliable narrators. I did enjoy not knowing what was real and not real, who was lying and who was telling the truth. Or was it like that saying that the truth lies somewhere in between? I thought the storytelling was amazing. I think the cover is really evocative of the story.

But: I hated the characters. I couldn’t get invested in either Aidan or Caroline and it just didn’t gel together for me. And I guessed the ending. I don’t mind unlikeable characters in general, but usually I need someone to be invested in and I found myself not caring about either one of them.

I wrote this review awhile ago and I know many people loved this book, but I need to keep it real, especially on my own blog. Looking back, this was a quick read and it kept me engaged, but I haven’t really changed my mind about it. This was not a bad book, by any stretch of the imagination. It just wasn’t my favorite thriller.

To be fair, maybe I was expecting too much. I read a lot of thrillers and this one just wasn’t for me. That doesn’t mean another reader won’t enjoy it. Give it a try. You may like the ride and the storytelling. This book publishes on July 23rd. Thank you to NetGalley and St Martins Press for a copy in exchange for an honest review.